Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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The effect of a daily 50 mg DHEA and 100 mg atamestane

At first glance it seems like a good idea: instead of giving men an anabolic steroid, give them a testosterone precursor and an anti-oestrogen. But in 2006 Dutch researchers published the disappointing results of a study in which they tried out a stack like this on men in their seventies.

The 100 test subjects were healthy, but physically weak. They scored low on muscle strength tests.

One of the reasons cited by scientists for reduced muscle strength and mass in the elderly is reduced testosterone production. Substances that sabotage the effect of estradiol, the female sex hormone, boost testosterone concentration, as do testosterone precursors. One substance in the first category is atamestane [structural formula shown below]; a substance in the second category is DHEA [structural formula shown below that of atamestane].

Atamestane may be unfamiliar to you. Its chemical name is 1-methyl-androsta-1,4-diene-3,17-dione, but if designer supplements manufacturers ever use it again, they are likely to call it 1-methyl-boldione.


Androgenic steroid hormones with 2 double bonds in the A-ring do not convert easily into oestrogens. Aromatase, the enzyme that if at all possible converts steroid compounds into oestrogens, has difficulty dealing with an A-ring with two double bonds. Chemists at Schering discovered decades ago that these steroid molecules change into anti-oestrogens if you attach a methyl group to C1, at the top of the A-ring.

You find this same 1-methyl group in classic Schering anabolic steroids too, like proviron and methenolone.

Schering took out a patent in 2004 on the combined administration of, for example, 50 mg DHEA and 100 mg atamestane daily. Schering was betting on this leading to more stable testosterone levels than injections of testosterone, and therefore better performance results.

Schering was probably not too happy with the results of the Dutch study. The conclusion was that 36 weeks on the steroid combination had no statistically significant effect on the weakened elderly in their seventies. By the way, the subjects did not do any training in the trial period.

The effect of a daily 50 mg DHEA and 100 mg atamestane

The table above just shows the results of the effects of 36 weeks on a placebo or on the combination recipe. For the complete table, which also shows the effects of DHEA on its own and atamestane on its own, click here.

The men in the placebo group lost 560 g lean body mass; the men in the DHEA+atamestane group gained 400 g lean body mass. That kilogram difference was not significant, however.

The muscle power in the hands [IGS] of the men and the legs [LEP] of the men increased in the placebo group and decreased in the DHEA+atamestane group.

"The results of this trial do not support the hypothesis that supplementation of DHEA, atamestane, or the combination in elderly men has an effect on frailty", the researchers conclude. "It could be suggested that a longer treatment period and/or higher dose is needed to find an effect on physical frailty, muscle strength, and functional performance."

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Oct; 91(10): 3988-91.

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